Which Types of Packaging Are Best for Different Cannabis Products?

This article is sponsored by Cannaline. Cannaline provides custom packaging solutions for the cannabis industry. 


In the face of strict regulations, ever-changing rules, and state-specific laws surrounding cannabis, producers are faced with an immense challenge in selecting the proper cannabis packaging. Glass, acrylic, silicone, cardboard, plastic—options offering an array of pros and cons abound, and apart from standing out against the competition, each must be appropriate for the product, preserve freshness, meet safety expectations, and be cost-effective. After hours spent growing, baking, and extracting, how should you as a producer choose the right kind of packaging for your flower, dabs, edibles, and joints?

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What to Consider When Choosing Cannabis Packaging

Securing branded packaging that stands out, while preserving your margins, is one of the ongoing challenges that cannabis businesses of all sizes face. Before you get into specific packaging types, you’ve got four important things to think about.

First, nail down who your target market is. Are you looking to attract price-conscious consumers, experienced smokers looking for top-shelf products, or an audience that falls somewhere in between? Your packaging should address their wants and needs.

Once you’ve determined your target consumer, focus on seeing things through their eyes. Envisioning the entire process from the moment they first see your product on the shelf to the moment they consume it is an incredibly helpful exercise. Picture where they’ll take the product, where they’ll use it, who they’ll show it to, and what features they’ll be most excited about—all of this can help you land on the perfect packaging solution.

Next, consider how your packaging style and materials will fit into your brand’s aesthetic. If you’re going for a top shelf, craft-scale look and feel, glass may be better than plastic; if you’re aiming your products at a budget consumer and want to maximize their savings, you may want to go for a less expensive option. Cannabis is an agricultural product that has no inherent “branding”—for this reason, it’s critical to build and promote a brand of your own creation. Details like different types of lids, colorful concentrate containers, and custom printing can be what your product needs to stand above the competition.

Finally, determine how much you should budget for packaging. “Generally speaking, you should plan on budgeting 1.5% to 4% of the retail price for packaging with a higher percentage for lower cost items,” says Arnold Heckman, CEO of cannabis packaging company Cannaline. The range depends on the amount of packaging you’ll need compared to the quantity of cannabis inside: for instance, a $10 retail pre-roll will likely have a higher percentage cost for packaging than a $250 ounce.

Have all the above in mind? Read on for a guide to suggested packaging types for different cannabis products.

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The Best Types of Packaging for Cannabis Flower

At your local dispensary, you’ll see flower packaged in everything from reusable glass jars to flexible plastic bags. Here are a few of the best packaging options to consider when choosing how to package the flower you’ve worked hard to grow.

Glass Jars | Glass is airtight and smell-proof, making it the gold standard for cannabis packaging. Plus, glass jars just look nice: as such, they can elevate brands and propel them into top-shelf territory. Glass is great for flower because it lets nugs maintain their shape while allowing consumers to easily see the bud structure prior to purchase. Furthermore, glass jars are not throw-aways—a jar with your logo will continue to promote your brand long after its contents have been consumed.

Price range: $$$ 

Borosilicate Tube Jars | Borosilicate (often known by its trade name Pyrex) offers many of the same benefits that classic glass jars do, but at a lower cost. Many cannabis brands choose borosilicate tubes for their dry flower because it allows for custom printing and works with a variety of lid options, including wood.

Price range: $$

Smell-Proof Bags | These bags are made of compound films and can include a built-in zipper to maintain the freshness of their contents over multiple uses. Heat-sealable and therefore tamper-evident, these bags can be opaque or include a clear window for consumers to view the contents. Bags usually have higher minimum order quantities than other types of packaging.  With some producers, such as Cannaline, there is no additional cost for custom printing or custom sizing after minimum order quantities have been met.

Bags are often the most cost-effective option for flower—they can accommodate a pound or more of cannabis and are easily custom-configured with different options such as hang holes, tear notches, rounded corners, and different shapes. Additionally, they only require about 5% of the storage space of non-flexible packaging.

Price range: $

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The Best Types of Packaging for Cannabis Concentrates

Concentrates tend to appeal to more experienced cannabis consumers since their effects are generally more intense. Because veteran consumers are often more opinionated than beginners when it comes to both products and their packaging, it’s important to get it just right.

Another important consideration is that concentrate containers are small, and consequently the container itself needs to be in a larger package with space for state-mandated information and branding. As such, small containers are often placed in tamper evident (heat sealed) bags, blisters, or boxes. Think of concentrate packaging as a “system” when making your decision.

Borosilicate Glass Containers | Borosilicate is lab-grade glass, meaning you can take a flame to the glass and liquefy its contents without having to worry about breakage. Open the package up and the contents are ready to dab

Price range: $$

Polystyrene Containers | Polystyrene containers are slightly more compact than their glass counterparts, and include an optional silicone insert ideal for sticky material. These containers are the most cost-effective solution for concentrate storage, and can also be custom-printed.

Price range: $

Acrylic Containers | BPA-free acrylic containers hold a bit more concentrate than the borosilicate and polystyrene containers and offer a “high-end” look and feel.

Price range: $$

Silicone Containers | Silicone containers are available in medical- and food-grade purity levels. Both options have their merits, though medical silicone is considerably clearer than food grade.  Some concentrates will react with food grade silicone, and to a lesser extent, medical grade, so testing your product in a sample container prior to packaging large quantities in silicone is always a good practice.

Price range: $$–$$$

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The Best Types of Packaging for Cannabis Edibles

Special considerations must be made when choosing packaging for edibles because in order to sell they have to look, well, edible. The packages that work best for any given edible will depend on the type of edible as well as its potency.

Tube Jars | Since it’s hard to smell the nuances of packaged cannabis edibles, visually appealing presentation becomes all the more important. Tube jars make great edible containers because they offer beautiful presentation of the edibles within and can be sealed with shrink bands to ensure product integrity for the end user.

Price range: $$$

Single-Use Bags | Single-use bags are tamper-evident, use food grade compound films to ensure freshness, and most importantly, are child-resistant. They can also be produced with zippers for re-sealing, although they are only considered child-resistant when heat sealed.

Price range: $–$$

Resealable Bags | These bags are smell-proof, can be heat sealed, and work great for high-THC edibles that most consumers won’t want to finish in a single sitting.

Price range: $

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The Best Types of Packaging for Pre-Rolls

Pre-rolls are perfect for consumers on the go, so a solution that prevents them from being crushed when put into a bag or backpack is important.

Pop-Top Tubes | These opaque tubes are securely child-resistant and will easily maintain the shape of a pre-roll, meaning consumers won’t have to worry about crushing them in transit.

Price range: $–$$

Clear Tubes | These rigid tubes include a removable lid and have higher clarity than opaque pop-tops, letting consumers see the quality of the roll in advance. They are airtight, waterproof, sand-proof, and available in a wide variety of looks and colors. Custom printing is available for clear tubes, and they require relatively low minimum order quantities.

Price range: $$

Pre-Roll Bags | These bags are smell-proof and tamper-evident when heat sealed. They will hold several pre-rolls, are cost effective, and take up minimal storage space while providing enough surface area for custom branding and state-mandated stickers. However, bags by their very nature can allow joints to break when carried in a purse or bag with other large or heavy items. One option, while a bit more expensive, is to place tubes within bags. This solves any breakage issues and provides a lot more room for custom branding on the bag than you would normally have on a tube.

Price range: $

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Choosing a Cannabis Packaging Company

Finding a packaging company that’s comfortable navigating the regulations surrounding cannabis packaging is helpful whether your company is just starting out, expanding into different states, or developing new product lines. Companies focused specifically on cannabis, such as Cannaline, are experienced in helping producers of all sizes find packaging solutions that are perfectly suited for this unique industry. “At Cannaline, our priority is to create a unique packaging solutions that promotes our customer’s brand, in a cost effective and timely manner,” says Heckman. “It can be as simple as creating unique graphics on our stock packaging solutions, including modifying their form factor if necessary, to creating a totally new packaging concept.”

To learn more, visit cannaline.com.


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